Every state uses its own rules for handling car accident claims, and states generally fall under “fault” and “no-fault” designations. Under a no-fault system, an injured driver must resort to his or her own insurance company. A driver may only take legal action against an at-fault driver under specific circumstances. Under fault-based systems, the at-fault driver bears liability for the damages he or she causes. To learn more about your unique car accident claim in Arizona, contact the Phoenix car accident lawyers at Begam Marks & Traulsen, P.A.
Fault in Arizona
Arizona operates under a traditional fault-based system. This means that after any auto accident it is essential to establish fault for the damages. The at-fault driver is responsible for compensating any drivers he or she injured through negligence. However, Arizona also follows a pure comparative negligence statute. This statute may influence the results of a civil claim if all parties involved share fault for the incident.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident Claim
In some car accidents, fault is very easy to establish. A few examples of this may include a driver who:
- A driver runs a red light or stop sign and T-bones another driver’s vehicle.
- A driver who is driving under the influence of alcohol causes a multi-car collision.
- A driver falls asleep at the wheel and drifts into the opposing traffic lane.
- A driver is talking on a cell phone and causes an accident by losing control of the vehicle.
In situations like these, it is very difficult for the at-fault driver to argue that an injured driver would bear fault for the auto accident. However, Arizona’s pure comparative negligence law makes this possible. Under this law, a plaintiff loses a portion of his or her case award equal to his or her percentage of fault for the incident in question. If there is any reason the defendant can indicate that shows the plaintiff bears some fault for an accident, the plaintiff will absorb a fault percentage.
In Arizona, a plaintiff can be as much as 99% at fault for a claimed incident and still recover 1% of the damages. This also means the plaintiff is liable for the defendant’s damages. In less severe cases, a plaintiff simply loses a portion of the case award equal to his or her fault percentage. For example, in a $100,000 claim for which the plaintiff is 10% at fault, the plaintiff loses 10% or $10,000 of the case award for a net total of $90,000.
Proving Negligence for a Car Accident in Arizona
To determine fault in an Arizona car accident, an injured driver’s personal injury attorney will need to prove the four elements of negligence.
- The plaintiff’s attorney must prove the at-fault driver owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the situation in question.
- The plaintiff’s attorney must then prove the at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care. For example, speeding or driving under the influence would constitute a breach of duty to drive safely.
- A plaintiff only has grounds for a lawsuit or claim if he or she suffered a measurable loss, such as expensive medical bills and significant injury. If there is no damage, there is no claim.
- Finally, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the claimed damages only occurred due to the defendant’s breach of duty or would not have occurred but for the defendant’s breach of duty.
Fault plays a crucial role in any car accident claim in Arizona. If an injured driver has any issues when it comes to establishing fault for a car accident, contact us. An injured driver should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Once an attorney reviews the evidence involved in a claim, he or she can give an accurate interpretation of those facts and help the client understand his or her available legal options.